Pubdate: Thu, 18 Feb 2010
Source: Daily Iowan, The (IA Edu)
Copyright: 2010 The Daily Iowan
Author: Jordan Fries
Cited: Iowa Board of Pharmacy
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - U.S.)


Officials from the Iowa Board of Pharmacy voted unanimously to
recommend that the state Legislature legalize the use of medical
marijuana on Wednesday.

The proposal would reduce marijuana from a Schedule I controlled
substance to a Schedule II, classifying the drug as presenting the
potential for abuse but also having acceptable medical uses.

If the suggestion passes through the Legislature, the Board of
Pharmacy would become the nation's first such organization to back
medical marijuana use.

Lloyd Jessen, the director of Iowa's Board of Pharmacy, said because a
state agency made the recommendations, a legalization bill cannot be
filed until next year at the earliest.

"We are limited in that regard, but there is nothing stopping state
legislators from passing this eventually," he said. "I know the board
is very pleased in the outcome. This decision is the culmination of a
pretty massive undertaking."

Because of various other issues and a shortened legislative session
expected to end in late March instead of April, Jessen said, he does
not envision legislators having the time to approve the bill in 2010.

Wednesday's recommendations would also give the Board of Pharmacy the
power to choose an advisory committee to aid legislators in properly
drafting a bill.

Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, told The Daily Iowan in October 2009
that he is in favor of legalization. Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City,
proposed a legalization bill that died on the committee floor during
last year's legislative session.

"I've heard from many Iowans who suffer in chronic pain from
debilitating conditions," Bolkcom told the DI on Oct. 7, 2009. "They
find they would get some benefits and pain relief if they had access
to medical marijuana."

The deciding group, consisting of four Board of Pharmacy members and
two public participants, made the recommendation after roughly six
months of research and testimony.

The board, at the urging of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa
Foundation, conducted four public forums from August to November 2009,
including one on the UI campus.

More than 136 people testified at these forums about the personal
benefits they received from medical marijuana use.

The board looked carefully at the testimonies, as well as results from
the 14 states that have already legalized medical marijuana, before
making a decision, Jessen said.

Jessen also pored over scientific data presented by ACLU officials at
the final forum on Nov. 4, before he felt comfortable enough to begin

"We looked at this as something beneficial to the state and to many
Iowans," Jessen said. "We had to make sure it was medically acceptable
if used responsibly."

Despite the wealth of support from state officials, some UI students
are still unsure on the issue.

"I'm not opposed to it, but I can see where it would pose problems,"
said UI senior Teddy Solberg.

"People might use it as an excuse to get their hands on it. But if
there's scientific evidence that medical marijuana can help people,
then I would support it." 
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